Help Wanted: Service Shows Our Love for One Another

Romans 12.9-21

Renewed thinking allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. It frees us up to  think of others before our selves. It pushes us to look out for ways to use our gifts and serve each other. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

Renewed thinking comes from a renewed mind…a mind that has been transformed by God’s Word. As we spend more time in God’s Word and allow God’s Word to spend more time in us, the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and transform us to live and love like Jesus. We begin to see the world more and more through His eyes. We begin to want what He wants. We begin to love like He loves. We begin to live out our role as ambassadors for His kingdom. And so come what may…good times or bad, blessing or cursing, feast or famine, tribulation or persecution or suffering of any kind…we can rejoice. We have hope. We trust God. And we see that His will for us is perfect…good, acceptable and perfect.

When my son was in third grade, he and I decided to try tae kwon do. The first day we entered the dojo, it was clear that the goal was for us to be black belts. Even though there were a number of them present, the sensei didn’t consider his job done until we all crossed the finished line. It’s not about one of us making it to maturity. It’s a group project. The job’s not done until we all attain to the unity of the faith…

I hope you’ve found this serve series to be helpful. I hope it’s caused you to begin to ask questions…to explore what your spiritual gifts are and where you might use them. I hope you’ve been encouraged. But most of all, I hope you discover the joy of serving for yourself. So if you’ve been waiting…just try it!

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service Uses Our Gifts

Romans 12.3-8

A renewed mind brings about renewed thinking which allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

God’s gifted you for a reason…are you using your spiritual gift to build up the body? Of course that assumes that you know what your spiritual gifts are. One way to discover what your spiritual gift is…is to serve. If you hear about an opportunity that appeals to you, then just try it. If it’s an area of giftedness, you’ll know. It will “feel” right, and we won’t be able to talk you out of it. If not, you’ll know that too, and you can try something else. Remember the Christian life is not an experiment but a lifestyle, not just trying, but training.

If you want to experience the fullness of joy and abundance of life that Jesus talks about, you’ve got to get serving. So find ways to serve. As you exercise your spiritual gifts, don’t be surprised to see God use them in tandem with others, bringing you closer together and closer to Him.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Help Wanted: Service is a Response

Romans 12.1-2

We all have ways that we are conforming to the world around us. Hard not to do when you walk this planet. But as we spend more time in God’s Word and allow God’s Word to spend more time in us, the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and transform us to live and love like Jesus. We begin to see the world more and more through His eyes. We begin to want what He wants. We see that His will for us is perfect. And then offering the whole of ourselves to Him…serving Him…just makes sense. It’s the only reasonable thing to do.

Because of what God’s done for us, we want to serve Him…and we do that by serving others.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Help Wanted: Inquire Within series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Message to the Churches: Laodicea

Revelation 3.14-22

The church at Laodicea is a mess. The best thing Jesus has to say about them is, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline…” Like Sardis, the church in Laodicea has a much higher opinion of themselves than Jesus does. And the discrepancy is shockingly great.

If the problem in the church of Sardis is spiritual lethargy…spiritual laziness. Being comfortable Christians. The problem in the church of Laodicea is self-sufficiency. They have everything they need, so they no longer recognize their need for Jesus resulting in rotten fruit and worthless works.

Like the church in Sardis, there is no mention of persecution at the church in Laodicea. And like Sardis a lack of persecution, a lack of suffering for their faith, a lack of tribulation is their biggest problem. They mistook physical wealth for spiritual blessing, a comfortable life for God’s favor. They saw self-sufficiency as a virtue. But persecution…that’s the blessing. Suffering for our faith…that’s the blessing. Tribulation…you got it. Because we are never more like Jesus than when we suffer for Him and suffer with Him.

Needless to say, the church of Laodicea is uncomfortably similar to the church in America today. Not everyone’s guilty, but it is an American virtue. Another name for the American dream…bigger barn building, being a self-made man or woman, independence, no one can tell us what to do, etc.

So what do we do? Start working on our heavenly bank account and stop worrying about our earthly one. Walk in the good works that God has prepared for us to do. Ask Jesus to reveal the areas of our lives where we have shut Him out, and by all means, invite Him back in! Don’t give up, don’t give in…Jesus wins.

That’s a wrap on the churches. We’ve seen some bright spots here and there, but for the most part the “C” Church on earth is a mess. Nothing like the throne room we will see in heaven next week.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Message to the Churches: Thyatira

Revelation 2.18-29

The church at Thyatira is great at love…and seems to get better all the time. Their problem is the opposite of the church at Ephesus. Remember the church at Ephesus was good at Truth. They put the false apostles to the test. Not so the church at Thyatira. They follow the teaching of the self-proclaimed prophetess, Jezebel. They may be good at Love, but they stink at Truth. And Love without Truth is as bad as Truth without Love. 

Like the church at Pergamum, the church at Thyatira’s big temptation is to give in. It’s to compromise. And the pressure here seems to be somewhat economically motivated. To “succeed” in society, you had to be part of the guild, and to be a part of the guild, you had to be a part of the…guild. You had to offer the sacrifices and participate in all the extracurricular activities. You had to fit in if you are going to fit in and even get ahead.

That’s probably one of the biggest temptations for us these days. Need to fit in. We do what’s necessary because “it’s just business”. No matter how questionable or immoral it may be. It’s no big deal, right? Everybody’s doing it…

But actions have consequences. And Jesus takes sin seriously. So when we minimize or trivialize it…watch out! Or like the folks in Thyatira, we may find out how quickly we’ll be called to account.

Instead let’s hold fast…let’s not give in. Let’s remember that Jesus wins.

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This post is based on a sermon from our Revelation series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Second Chances

John 21.15-25

This particular story is unique to John. So why does he include it? In verse 14, John reminds us that this is the third time that Jesus has made Himself known to the disciples. The two previous times that Jesus showed up, He had a purpose in mind, right? Calming the fears and commissioning a group of the disciples, breathing on them the Holy Spirit and giving them life; and then a special encore presentation for Thomas. This episode also has a very focused purpose…the restoration of Peter. You see, after his denial, we as the readers are left wondering, “So whatever happened to Peter?”

Peter had blatantly denied and turned his back on Jesus. There was no getting around it. After all of the boasting, after all of the posturing, in the end he had failed miserably. And all of his closest friends knew it. Fear might have been involved, although given Peter’s boldness in confronting the soldiers that seems less likely. Frustration? Probably. Doubts? Sure. But Peter was supposed to be their fearless leader. Would he ever be useful again?

And now, miraculously Peter is given a second chance. Jesus shows up and takes him aside, and with the reminder of both his failure and his calling in mind, he’s given another opportunity to follow Jesus. But following Him this go round would not end well from an earthly standpoint. It would involve a cross. Given the last three years…knowing all that he had been through and would yet go through, would he still sign up? Knowing that the journey would be a lonely one, with no guarantees that anyone else would accompany him, would he still follow Jesus? Would you?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember a time I verbally denied Jesus. I can, though, remember plenty of times that I denied Him by my actions. It reminds me of my high school and college years. I had trusted in Jesus and even felt like He was calling me into ministry, but I was unwilling to give up the life I was pursuing at the time. I was afraid I might miss out on something, but it was just leading to greater heartache, shame, frustration, guilt, etc. It wasn’t “life”…not anything like the abundant life that Jesus talked about last week. But of course I wasn’t walking in obedience either. I wasn’t spending time in His Word or prayer, wasn’t spending time with other believers, really didn’t feel like I had much of a story to share. I wasn’t abiding and so for sure wasn’t bearing fruit. I was denying Jesus with all but my words. And yet He was so gracious and just kept pursuing me, until one day I came to the “aha” moment, and I stopped running from Him and started pursuing Him…and said “yes” to His “Follow Me.”

But what about you? How have you blown it? Have you come out the other side? What does life look like? What have you learned from it? How is it causing you to trust God more? The encouraging thing for me from Peter’s story is that Jesus makes a special trip to offer him his second chance. And not only a second chance, but also a bright new future chock full of opportunity to continue to pursue Jesus…and to fail, but also to change the world. He and this rag-tag group of Jesus-followers will take the Roman world by storm…not leading a military campaign, but waging spiritual warfare nonetheless. We are here today because of a guy like Peter.

It strikes me that Peter’s story would likely have had a very different ending had I been the one whom he had denied. And for some of us, we are in the position of being the betrayed. If that’s you, have you restored the one who failed you? Have you forgiven them? Any second chances? Would you trust them with an even greater level of responsibility? Or would you do what I can be so quick to do, and write them off?

Peter’s story is challenging: Do we believe that Jesus still can and wants to use us, no matter our failures? Are we willing to follow Him, no matter the cost? Will we forgive and restore others when they fail us?

My prayer is that you realize Jesus’ deep and abiding love for you, that you rest in His amazing grace, and that you show that same grace toward others this week.

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This post is based on a sermon from our John series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Abiding in the Vine

John 15.1-17

Discipleship is all about abiding in the Vine. But to do that we have to stay connected to Jesus. We have to rely on Jesus. We have to follow Jesus. And we have to obey Jesus.

There’s an old hymn that says, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.” Must have spent some time in this passage. Obedience is not a popular word. From the time we were kids, we have wanted our independence. We like freedom. We don’t like folks telling us what to do. Let me make my own decisions. Let me decide for myself what’s best. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like what got us in trouble in the first place…in the garden. Not trusting God, but trusting ourselves.

Obedience in the Christian life is not the oppressive bowing to the will of a tyrant. I think sometimes that’s the image we get when we hear the word. But it’s joyfully doing what our Father says, knowing that He loves us and wants what’s best for us. Sometimes that will involve pruning. But it is always for our good.

One last thought…fruit bearing is a direct result of abiding. We were saved for a purpose…that we would live lives that point others to Jesus. That we would share our story and reflect His character to a watching world. If you want to live the abundant life, you’ve got to abide in the Vine.

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This post is based on a sermon from our John series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

The Word

John 1.1-18

In these opening verses, John unmistakably presents Jesus as more than a Man…He was with God and He was God. Like I said earlier, it’s our Trinitarian concept of God…one God in three Persons. God the Father. God the Son. And as we will see soon enough, God the Holy Spirit. Not easy to grasp but foundational to our faith.

Not only does John present Jesus as more than a Man…He is also a Man. The Word became flesh. He didn’t give up His God-ness to become a Man, but somehow clothed His divinity in humanity. Again, not something that is easy to understand but also foundational to our faith.

John wants us to know Jesus…fully God because only God can forgive sins. Fully Man because only a Man could die for sin. The perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…if you have not yet trusted in Jesus, make today the day!

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This post is based on a sermon from our John series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Let Love Be Your Outstanding Debt

Romans 13.8-14

Owe nothing except the debt to love.

I wonder what it would look like if we took that challenge seriously. If the first thought we had when we saw someone is, “How can I love them?” Or “What would love look like in this situation?” Kind of a scary thought, huh? It would no doubt raise a few eyebrows and would certainly be countercultural. But there would also be no mistaking who we are and whose we are.

A few weeks ago, Scott said his word for the year is intentional. That comes to mind with this passage. In order to live out our faith and to live like Jesus could come back at any time, we have to be intentional. Intentional in renewing our minds through time spent in God’s Word and God’s Word spending time in us. Intentional about prayer…seeing it not just as a luxury when I can get to it, but a vital part of our day throughout the day. Intentional about time with other believers…are you in a community group? Intentional about living a generous life (Who can I bless? What needs can I meet?). Intentional about sharing our story. Intentional about investing our mina…our life…for maximum kingdom impact.

Back to the parable of the nobleman from Luke 19. Those who know the King and are living intentionally for the kingdom are anxious for His return. They can’t wait to share with Him stories of how they’ve invested the mina He entrusted to them and rejoice with Him in the impact it’s made. They are living today in light of eternity. Is that you?

If not, what is it you need to put aside…how are you conforming to this world? What compromises are you making? What needs to change in your daily/weekly routine? What relationships do you need to reevaluate? What intentional step can you take this week?

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This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Renewed Thinking

Romans 12.3-21

Renewed thinking allows us to see the world from a very different perspective than those around us. It causes us to think rightly about who we are and how we fit within the church. And it’s the catalyst for us to live and love like Jesus.

Renewed thinking comes from a renewed mind…a mind that has been transformed by God’s Word. As we spend more time in God’s Word and allow God’s Word to spend more time in us, the Spirit uses the Word to renew our minds and transform us to live and love like Jesus. We begin to see the world more and more through His eyes. We begin to want what He wants. We begin to love like He loves. We begin to live out our role as ambassadors for His kingdom. And so come what may…good times or bad, blessing or cursing, feast or famine, tribulation or persecution or suffering of any kind…we can rejoice. We have hope. We trust God. And we see that His will for us is perfect…good, acceptable and perfect.

pro rege

This post is based on a sermon from our Romans series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster